Arlington County Police are investigating several recent cases of theft involving housekeepers.
In each of the four cases, which span from Rosslyn to Ballston to Crystal City, the victim hands over a key to a person they trust to clean their home.
But they’ve returned to find things missing, “anything from jewelry to electronics,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
The victims contracted the suspected thieves from the same third-party website designed for connecting with housekeepers, Savage said.
“They’re booking the services online, they’re talking to the person over the phone and then they’re letting that person have access to their home without being home,” Savage said.
Police are not naming the site, as it’s still under investigation.
President of northern Virginia-based MaxiMaids Jeannine Garcia acknowledged the Internet is often tempting for customers.
“Excellent prices, excellent promotions, coupons, everything …,” Garcia said.
She started working as an employee for the company three decades ago and now owns it.
“You know you’re letting somebody into your house, and it’s not just about taking things from them, stealing, it’s even their privacy,” Garcia said.
She’s wary of the online approach.
“We’re not Amazon," she said. "You cannot buy reliable people. You cannot buy trustworthy people. You have to have a solid company and you have to talk to people.”
But Chad MacDonald does believe you can still find those safe home service companies online, which is what his own company, HomeStar, promises to do.
His warning before choosing a cleaning person: “They all say they’re licensed and insured. The most important thing to say is, ‘Talk to me about the person who’s going to come into my home and let me do my own investigation and background.’”
Police see it the same way.
“Do your homework. When you look into these businesses you want to see how long these businesses have been in service? Has a friend or family member used them? Do they have a favorable review?” Savage said. “If you’re going to have a home cleaning, take anything of value and put it in a place that’s not accessible for your cleaner. And also make sure you write down any serial numbers that you may have. Just in case something does happen that we can track your property down.”